To all the friends who I’ve flaked out on, I’m sorry. To all the friends I’ve made plans with and then cancelled on last minute, potentially with an excuse you don’t understand, I hope this will help you to understand and forgive me.
I have chronic migraine which means I have a persistent headache every day.
Sometimes it’s in the background and if I’m busying myself with something it’s bearable. In fact, many of my friends might not even realise I get headaches and migraines because I may not have even mentioned they’re there. I grew up thinking having a headache all the time was normal. It’s all I can remember and I get on with it because I have to.
Other days I may find it more difficult to concentrate, but with some strong painkillers (on the advice of a migraine specialist), lots of water, head massages, fresh air and smelling salts it might be bearable.
If I catch it in time.
On the worst days, I can’t get out of bed because every single movement is like someone is smashing my skull with a sledgehammer. It hurts to turn my head. I can’t stand the light or any noise and I’ll likely be throwing up violently. Imagine the worst hangover you’ve ever had and times it by ten. If I’ve made plans with you on that day, I’ll struggle to tell you I can’t make it as even picking up my phone will be a struggle.
Thankfully, those days are becoming less frequent.
But normally, a change in migraine of any kind jumps up on me a bit, with little warning. And I still don’t know what all my triggers are. I suspect that the weather is one of them. Stormy, muggy weather definitely has an impact, which is a bugger because there’s little I can do to get away from that. What I can do is keep myself hydrated and try to get lots of rest on those days.
I’ve found that in general I’ve had to make a lot of lifestyle changes. I can’t go out partying and drinking lots of alcohol and I can’t survive on little sleep. That’s something that’s difficult for someone who also suffers from insomnia. I have to go to bed early, eat healthily and do low intensity exercise. I have to make time for myself and deal with stress, something I’ve been talking about a lot recently but I’m convinced all these things are linked.
I’ve realised my body can’t cope with things as well as I would like it to. At least for the moment, while I’m figuring some of these things out – I’m definitely still working on the healthy eating and exercise plan.
Travel takes it out of me too. Back in February, I went up to Northampton with the main intention of going out in the evening for one of my best friend’s birthday celebrations. I drove up on the Friday and saw family during the day on the Saturday, both of which tired me out so much that I got a migraine on the Saturday night and couldn’t go out with my friend. And then I had to drive home again on Sunday. Game over.
So please don’t take it personally if I say no when you invite me to something. Or if I do say yes with good intentions and then on the day realise my body’s failed me and I cancel on you. It’s often unpredictable.
Sometimes I may not be doing something on a day or evening you’ve invited me to do something but I’ll be doing something on every or most other evenings that week, and as much as it frustrates me, I just know my body and my head just won’t be able to cope with it. It’ll wipe me out and I’ll make myself ill.
It doesn’t mean I don’t want to see you and it doesn’t mean I don’t value our friendship.
I’m working with a migraine specialist to find medication that’ll work for me but I’m not there yet. Only two weeks ago was I bed bound and throwing up with a severe migraine. There’s still a long road ahead.
Please just bear with me!